Vietnam: Cinema Bill – What will be on stage?


My dear friend (Cam Tu) from law school days brought me news about directors and screenwriters in Vietnam expressing their concerns about the Cinema Bill (“Law Project“). I have followed this bill from day one and I must admit that it continues to amaze me with the different versions. Version 8 of the bill will be on the table for the members of the Assembly. national trade around October this year.

Among other things, Article 22 deals with the most controversial issue concerning the distribution of films on cyberspace. While waiting for a new version 8 update, in fact, version 7 of the Cinema Bill offers two options:

  • The First option, called post-examination (ex post), allows film publishers to question themselves and take their responsibilities, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (“MOCST“) will conduct the review process (if necessary) after the films have been published / broadcast online.
  • The Second option, called pre-exam (ex ante), requires that films be released on the Internet only upon issuance of a film classification permit by the competent state authorities (i.e. MOCST).

Notwithstanding the two aforementioned options, it was heard through the vineyard that a representative of the National Assembly proposed the Third option which combines the two mentioned approaches, suggesting that post-examination should be adopted more predominantly. The pre-examination, on the other hand, should only be applied to films / films that are likely to have impacts on politics, ideology, national defense and security, taking into account the management capacity of the state.

Although I hope that version 8 of the bill will improve considerably and that most members of the National Assembly will be inclined to the first option (i.e. the self-classification approach / post-review), it would be good to take a look at how Singapore and other countries are facing the same issue.

For Singapore, the importation, production, distribution or exploitation of films in Singapore is governed by the Films Act of 1981. Over the years, Singapore has gone from strict censorship (before 1991) to classification, clearly reflecting the and liberal approach to the film industry.

Under the Singapore Film Act, the News Media Development Authority (“IMDA“) is responsible for the classification of films intended for distribution and public exhibition; however, certain types of films are exempt from classification.

Among other things, Singapore attaches great importance to:

  • Respect due to racial and religious sensibilities; and
  • Due impartiality with regard to public policies and other controversial issues.

IMDA’s evaluation of a film includes 7 (seven) content elements: Theme and Message; Violence; Nudity; Sex; Tongue; Drug and substance abuse (including abuse of psychoactive substances); Horror.

More importantly, unlike strict censorship, the rating allows films to be properly rated for different audiences so that audiences can have greater access to a wider range of media choices without compromising the need to protect young people. children from unwanted content.

Singapore is only a reference source. It is extremely important for members of the National Assembly to obtain legal support from stakeholders and industry experts before bidding on the bill. All of this will mean a lot to increase the film industry (which is said to bring huge benefits to the country from different fonts). The proactive engagement between lawmakers and potentially affected subjects / filmmakers / investors will enrich and infuse policy insight, first-hand engagement with industry stakeholders and multi-faceted perspectives which in turn will enable in Vietnam to integrate more into global standards and better training.

October is a month of remembrance, especially next October. I hope to see many happy returns and jovial smiles from those who will potentially be affected by the bill.

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